by Anupa Mistry
Originally published: June 8, 2016
Toronto's Setsuné Fashion Incubator has curated an art show-cum-clapback called Indian Giver.
Sage Paul knew that the name of her new art show would be provocative. Indian Giver: It’s an outmoded pejorative used to denigrate a long tradition of give-and-take common to many native communities across North America. Paul is a Toronto-based clothing designer, of Dene First Nations origin, who runs the Setsuné Fashion Incubator with Erica Iserhoff. They came up with Indian Giver as the name for a wearable art and textile show in order to draw a direct correlation between ownership and appropriation. If you want to be polite about it, the show’s is recontextualizing a variety of native aesthetics. More directly: Sage Paul and her collaborators are taking back a narrative that Indigenous peoples never gave away in the first place.
“Accountability is only coming up now, because we finally have a voice to say, ‘Wait a minute, you can’t use our name for that or our ceremonial objects for your poster!’,” Paul said. “It's very new, but this turn of accountability is not enough. We're just at the beginning of the conversation.”